SPD plans fixed speeding-ticket camera for Gatewood school zone

West Seattle’s Gatewood Elementary is one of four schools citywide whose speed zones have been chosen by the Seattle Police Department for fixed speeder-catching cameras. That’s according to an SPD report to be delivered during this Tuesday’s meeting of the City Council Transportation Committee. The report explains:

The radar-based devices will issue tickets only when the school beacons are flashing (during school hours). Speed violators will be issued tickets with variable fines that will match the cost of a ticket that would otherwise be issued by an officer.

According to the report, the camera should be up and running before school starts September 5th; we’ll be checking this week on installation status.

The same document (which is dated June 11th) includes a status report on the city’s “speed van,” which was first shown off outside Gatewood almost four years ago (WSB coverage here). The report details multiple problems that plagued the van and forced its replacement last spring, while noting the new one is much simpler for officers to use, and had double the “capture rate” once it was deployed before last school year ended.

UPDATE, 4:44 PM MONDAY: Just talked with SPD’s program manager for this, who says, first of all, they have since updated the memo – the fines are not variable; they are fixed – $189. The camera will be on Fauntleroy, and will be installed sometime in the next few weeks.

35 Replies to "SPD plans fixed speeding-ticket camera for Gatewood school zone"

  • Velo_nut August 13, 2012 (5:09 am)

    Heck, put speed camaras all the way down 35th! Please!

  • smokeycretin9 August 13, 2012 (7:01 am)

    sooooo, this means the school beacon lights will be flashing from 6am to noon, and then from 1pm till 6pm?

  • Judy P August 13, 2012 (7:36 am)

    Compliance with the school-zone speed limit at Gatewood would greatly improve if the flashing light for south-bound traffic weren’t obscured by a tree, plus (if memory serves me) now a bus stop. The radar will only serve to irritate local drivers further. We mean to comply but the city needs to rectify signal placement.

  • rob August 13, 2012 (9:00 am)

    I find this bizarre. I use this bit of road every day and while yes, some people do go a bit too fast there, the problem is nothing compared to 35th. Why does it seem like every time they choose to do something, they never seem to pick the places that could benefit the most?

  • que August 13, 2012 (9:08 am)

    I assume that this will be on the Fauntleroy? or will it be on California? There are school beacons on both streets for Gatewood. That might be important information for folks.

    • WSB August 13, 2012 (9:23 am)

      I believe Fauntleroy, though the document (which is linked in the story) doesn’t say; we’re following up on a few things not mentioned – TR

  • zone August 13, 2012 (10:02 am)

    35th has a school zone too near Our Lady of Guadalupe. It says you have to drop to 20 from 35 and then after passing the zone down the hill there is the speed indicator. Although not a school zone I would vote for one one of these on Thistle. Cars go 60 and above there and even though its main arterial its also residential. While we are in the business of revenue generating (which is all these are let’s be clear) for the City let’s just make it fair.

  • marcus ativalu August 13, 2012 (10:07 am)

    i love how not one person says a thing about fixing the road. it has buckled and broken in more than several pieces and is not safe.
    failed leadership
    lazy greedy spd – its not for our safty its for there $

  • flynlo August 13, 2012 (10:12 am)

    There are no “beacons” as in flashing lights on California for Gatewood. In fact, going southbound on California, the School Speed limit does not end since there is no “End School Zone” sign!!

  • WestSeattleDrew August 13, 2012 (10:13 am)

    First in the school zones. Next on every street corner.

  • Andrea August 13, 2012 (10:59 am)

    I am confused. I got a $300 speeding ticket in the mail for going 31mph in a school zone on Fauntleroy near Gatewood so there must already be a speeder catcher camera there. At the time, I had no idea I was in a school zone and I did not see the flashing lights. The ticket was a complete surprise, especially since I always make sure not to go above 30mph on Fauntleroy.

    • WSB August 13, 2012 (11:34 am)

      Andrea, the speed van has been there from time to time. That’s where that would have come from. – TR

  • GatewoodDad August 13, 2012 (1:46 pm)

    Happy to see a permanent camera on Fauntleroy for the Gatewood school zone. Approximately 400 kids around the school and this will help with safety. Now just need on the California side as many folks speed down the big hill. For what it is worth, there should be a camera at every school zone period!

  • Down In Delridge August 13, 2012 (1:54 pm)

    If you can’t manage to keep your four wheeled deadly weapon at the posted legal speed limit then it is time for you to reconsider your ability to drive. Seriously people, this is one of the basics of being an adult citizen. Control yourself or someone else has to do it for you via your tickets and your wallet.

  • JumboJim August 13, 2012 (3:05 pm)

    If this is like school-zone speed cameras in other areas (such as Renton) there will probably be tickets given at all sorts of times, including summer, despite what the city is saying.

    I’m not against these cameras, I’d just like there to be some sense to it. Perhaps the city will do this as they say and limit ticketing to when school is in session and/or when the flashing lights are alerting drivers? One can hope…

  • EdSane August 13, 2012 (4:52 pm)


    If a summer school session is happening the camera would likely be activated. Regardless,these tickets are easily overcome as shown in RCW 46.63.075. Just tell the court you were not in possession of your vehicle.

  • zzz August 13, 2012 (8:12 pm)

    JEEZ $300!!!??? Revenue generating!

  • Tracy White August 13, 2012 (9:00 pm)

    @ Down in Delridge: geez; hyperbole much?
    @ marcus ativalu: They won’t fix the roads until it’s time to make them bike friendly.
    @ Rob: the general streets don’t get them as much hits with the voters as much as children-targeted measures do. “Think of the Children” is as much a rough guide for politicians as it is a rallying cry for the overprotective.
    @ Tracy White: Cynic & snark much?

  • datamuse August 13, 2012 (10:56 pm)

    They won’t fix the roads until it’s time to make them bike friendly.
    Not if the recommended bike routes I’ve been riding lately are any indication. I think I loosened a filling yesterday.

  • Jonathan August 14, 2012 (12:19 am)

    Does anyone know if radar guns and even those “Your Speed” feedback signs harm the human body? As we travel past an increasing number of these devices lawfully every single day, are we putting ourselves cumulatively at risk? I understand that radar and microwave are virtually synonymous.

  • JN August 14, 2012 (8:33 am)

    Johnathan, I doubt any of those devices are more detrimental to ones health than the ridiculous amount of exhaust and pollution from the other motor vehicles on the road.

  • Debra August 14, 2012 (2:43 pm)

    This is such wonderful news. I live in this area and see cars speeding past this school zone frequently.
    Thank you SPD.

  • Tim August 14, 2012 (3:41 pm)

    I have no problem with cameras in school speed zones, after all it is about safety of our smallest citizens. What I do have a problem with is the inconsistency with which the flashing lights and “end zone” signs appear to be installed. Is there any way to check what a driver is supposed to do if there is no “end school zone” sign? What about if the flashing signs are obstructed?

  • westseattleparent August 14, 2012 (9:19 pm)

    They absolutely HAVE to fix the location of this light that alert drivers that the school speed is in effect. It’s completely obscured by trees until you’re literally under the lights. Since the schools in West Seattle all operate under different hours, there’s not a standard time we can all become accustomed to, and if we’re supposed to know when to reduce speed on Fauntleroy, we have to be able to see the lights flashing. I was ticketed here last year, challenged it in court, and won. I took pictures, and the judge agreed that there was no way to know I was in a speed limit zone until after the point at which I was radared.I would suggest that the WSB does a test of this, and challenge the city.

    • WSB August 14, 2012 (9:29 pm)

      I am working on a story right now following up on this; the Fauntleroy Community Association is making this point to the city in a letter approved at their meeting tonight. – TR

  • Buck August 14, 2012 (10:20 pm)



  • M. August 14, 2012 (11:40 pm)

    “First in school zones, next on evey street corner”.
    There’s a vast difference between a few speed cameras in areas of concern, to one on every street corner.

    “JEEZ (etc.)…$300 revenue generating!”
    Perhaps more accurately, it’s a way to create awareness and compliance by hitting those offenders with a monetary fine.

    Buck, speed bumps don’t help with the variable speeds allowed. As far as “morons”, the City has in my opinion a pretty competent staff. The complexities inherent to the system is sometimes difficult to wade through, but I’ll gladly elect others to do so. If you might have a better idea, contact the D.O.T.

  • anonyme August 15, 2012 (6:34 am)

    Every street corner is fine with me. Placing cameras only in school zones seems silly. For one, they’re only useful 9 months of the year. For another, there are many areas with far more serious speeding problems – 35th, specifically, as several others have mentioned. Police have better things to do, and can’t be everywhere at once. If speeding fines bolster the City coffers, that’s a bonus IMO.

  • Disappointed August 15, 2012 (7:10 pm)

    I have asked this before and not gotten an answer: The signs in the school zones say “20 mph when lights are flashing or if children are present” – if the lights are not flashing AND there are no children in sight, is the speed limit 20mph or 30mph (or whatever it is before the zone)? How does SPD interpret this sign and are they consistent?
    I use this road occasionally, but now will be reluctant to do so, although I try not to speed. A ticket for 1 mph over is ridiculous! Sounds like Renton and I won’t go there either.
    BTW, if the end of zone sign is missing, I look for the begin zone sign on the other side of the road.

  • JoAnne August 15, 2012 (7:23 pm)

    Charging $300 to someone going 31 mph on a main arterial does NOT improve safety–it generates revenue.
    These cameras and creepy vans are meant to bleed citizens.
    Anyone who claims they are there for safety is a dirty liar.

  • Stephanie August 15, 2012 (10:54 pm)

    Disappointed – if the lights are NOT flashing and there are NO children – the speed limit is 30mph.

  • M. August 16, 2012 (12:29 am)

    “Anyone who claims they are there for safety is a dirty liar.”

    Or perhaps has a differing opinion than your own.
    There is an easy way to never get a speeding ticket.

  • Lura Ercolano August 16, 2012 (12:20 pm)

    Does the Gatewood office have the power to turn the flashing lights on manually? For example, sometimes the 1st graders have a walking field trip to Lincoln Park and back, or the 4th graders go to The Kenney to volunteer with the elderly, or there is an evening event at the school bringing hundreds of children to the school for a fair. I believe the school zone speed limit DOES apply at those times, because certainy “children are present”.
    I’d love for these cameras to be on any street that has a big problem with speeders. Maybe they’d help habitual speeders to change their habits.

  • kootchman August 17, 2012 (3:18 am)

    Hope it has a good lens… “it wasn’t me” .. prove it.

  • Joe August 17, 2012 (10:18 am)

    More electronic cops. This is b.s.! These are peoples jobs being taken away. Are the funds generated being put back into w.s. for improvements to pedestrian facilities and safety???? I think not.

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